I was told by a geriatric psychiatrist that many people have a dementia for two years before it is noted to be a concern.
Many times family members are simply oblivious to the obvious decline in mental capacity of a parent by simply thinking that is the aging process.
It should be noted that the terms Alzheimer’s and dementia are often thrown around interchangeably, but refer to two different things:
Dementia is a syndrome of a group of symptoms that often doesn’t lead to a specific diagnosis, while Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease.
Many symptoms such a short term memory loss and confusion can occur in demented diseases as well as Alzheimer’s, but there are differences, as well as overlap.
Complicating the issue is that one can have more than one type of dementia, and that other diseases can trigger dementia.
The disease of Alzheimer’s is degenerative, increasingly common with our aging population and incurable at this time.
The average life expectancy of a patient following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is approximately 8 to 10 years.
No matter what the cause of the demented you may be, it is important to realize that recognizing the disease early can help the patient and family prepared to deal with it, and to properly prepare an estate plan.
SYMPTOMS TO WATCH FOR
1. Short Term Memory Loss
The hallmark of all demented is is short term memory loss. This can result in everything from missed appointments to repeatedly asking for the same information or telling the same stories over and over.
2. Trouble with Instructions
This often shows up when a person suddenly has problems doing routine matters such as banking, or cooking a favorite recipe from memory. The more problem-solving or following of written instructions, the more amplified the problem is noted.
3. Hiding and Hoarding
This phenomena can be as a result of a person attempting to remain in control of their situation, or alternatively being paranoid that people are stealing their items.
4. Trouble Communicating
Verbal communication can become very difficult for people experiencing dementia, ranging from forgetting the right word to use or describe, calling objects by the wrong name, to a total loss of the ability to communicate.
5. Behavioral Changes
Depression is a common factor amongst the elderly as well as the demented and complicates the diagnosis. The person may be more prone to wander and get lost, change their personality in a radical way, engage in unsafe behaviors and many other ways.
6. Decision Making
As the brain disintegrates through dementia the person becomes much more vulnerable to the power of suggestion, telemarketers, door-to-door salesman and other predators. Left to their own decision-making many demented people cannot make even simple decisions.
7. Decline in Personal Hygiene
People with dementia frequently display a total lack of regard to brushing their teeth and washing their body and their clothing. They often do not wash their hair or clip their nails and their household may be a germ and mold infested area.
8. Skipping Meals
Persons experiencing dementia may start to lose interest in food and skip meals altogether, or alternatively may forget that they just ate and eat multiple times. Left to their own devices, they will not eat a healthy diet and will resort to easy to access junk food.
9. Time and Location
Is common for demented people to mix night and day, and to forget where they are or how they got there and how do get home.
11. Delusions or Paranoia
Many demented people, particularly those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can become extremely suspicious or paranoid of others to the extent that they fear someone is trying to kill them, harm or steal from them. These people often phone the police and report things like people stealing from their ATM only to shown the film that it a themselves who withdrew the money.
12. Social and Family Withdrawal
A demented person may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, sports and family engagements. The changes they are experiencing can be frightening and overwhelming and may drive them away from spending time with other people.